Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Silver Spring Township supervisors take first step to ban cell towers near schools and day care centers
SILVER SPRING TOWNSHIP — The Silver Spring Township board of supervisors on Wednesday night agreed to forward a request for a zoning text amendment that would prevent cellular towers from being constructed less than 1,000 feet from schools and day care facilities.
The catalyst for the request, which will next be reviewed by county and township planning commissions, was a land lease agreement between Verizon and the Cumberland Valley School District, approved in August.
The binding contract calls for Verizon to pay the district $24,000 each year to lease a 45-by-65-foot piece of land next to the soccer field behind Eagle View Middle School.
In the past month, neighbors of the proposed site have complained to the school board about their concerns of decreased property values and health hazards of the originally 150-foot proposed tower, which has since been modified by Verizon to 80 feet in response to aesthetic concerns.
On Wednesday night, Todd Harvey, a Camp Hill-based physician and resident whose home neighbors the proposed cell tower site, provided the supervisors with a 14-page reference list of publications that warn of health issues related to electromagnetic radiation, which emanates from cell towers.
The proposed site, he said, is only 100 yards from classrooms at Eagle View, 300 yards from the playground area at Silver Spring Elementary, and 150 yards from many neighboring homes, including his.
Studies have linked radiation to a number of health issues, such as changes in sleep patterns, dementia, infertility, DNA alterations which cause cancer, and childhood Leukemia and blood diseases.
Describing how tobacco use was once accepted as safe, and its growth even subsidized by the federal government when it was not known to be a carcinogen, Harvey said, “Electromagnetic radiation is the tobacco of this time.”
John Burns, president of the neighboring Hillside Farms community homeowner’s association, said the request for the text amendment was not an attack on the cell tower industry, but is simply in the best interest of the community, including aesthetics, maintaining residential tax base and property values, ensuring the future growth of small business in the township, and protecting students, staff and neighboring residents from unnecessary possible health effects.
“There’s no need to needlessly take a chance,” he said, and later added, “We do not need to willingly put them at risk.”
Burns said studies show that 1,000 feet is far enough to keep continual, high exposure to radiation at bay.
Supervisors Nathan Spade said while the supervisors agreed to forward the amendment request, he said that won’t stop applicants who want to build a tower from requesting a variance to the zoning code.
And there are many details to be worked out, he added.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” Burns said.
A public hearing on the zoning text amendment request is scheduled for the Jan. 22 meeting of the Silver Spring Township board of supervisors.